(RANCHO MIRAGE, CALIF.) - It was a walk down memory lane for 24 legends of the LPGA at the 2019 ANA Junior Inspiration on Sunday, March 31 – and two past champions especially enjoyed reliving the moment on the Dinah Shore Course at Mission Hills Country Club.
Pat Hurst, the 1998 champion, was invited by playing partner and 2019 ANA Junior Inspiration champion Cindy Kou to join her in the celebratory leap into Poppie’s Pond – a tradition inspired by three-time ANA Inspiration champion Amy Alcott (1983, 1988, 1991).
And Alcott, paired with the 2018 ANA Junior Champion, Rose Zhang of Irvine, Calif., and Bohyun Park of Farmers Branch, Texas, took home the hardware in the Legends best ball division. Her pairing fired a team score of 64 and prevailed in a scorecard playoff.
Out ahead of Alcott, Legends Tour player Lisa DePaulo, paired with junior golfers Charlotte Hillary of Cherry Hills Vollage, Colo. and Ashley Simm of San Mateo, Calif., held the clubhouse lead for a while at eight under par with an eagle and six birdies – five of them carded by DePaulo. Alcott’s team got it to eight under par when she birdied the par 3 16th.
“It was fun mentoring these young girls and seeing the future of the game,” said Alcott, who added that junior golf is the “lifeblood” of the game. “I started when I was a kid, so I know what it’s like,” smiled Alcott, an LPGA and World Golf Hall of Famer with 29 LPGA Tour wins and five major championship titles.
Alcott closed her round with a clutch up and down on the infamous par 5 finishing hole.
“I had a really tough third shot there and I was lucky to hit it over the water,” said Alcott, who finessed a lengthy chip from the left rough to five feet and then drained the putt. “But I still got my game, it’s still there. I still like those pressure moments and putting it all on the line.”
Hurst, who had a front row seat to formidable play by Kou, a 15-year-old out of Windemere, Fla., described the junior champion’s play as rock solid. “She hit a lot of fairways and greens,” noted Hurst, who impressed the crowd with a green in regulation of her own on 18, knocking a wedge over the water to a foot from the flagstick to finish her round with a tap-in birdie.
“She asked me to help her read a few putts, but for the most part, I just stood in the background and watched her do her thing,” added Hurst, a 6-time LPGA Tour champion who is serving as assistant captain to Juli Inkster for their third consecutive Solheim Cup at the helm.
Kou sealed her victory with a birdie putt on the third hole of a sudden death playoff with runner-up Joyce Jin of Encinitas, Calif, and then coaxed Hurst into joining her for an unforgettable splash.
Though reticent given her inability to swim and her reputation for having “waded in” when she won the event back in 1998, Hurst made the leap look easy and helped the day further live up to its promise of inspiration.
Participating Legends included six Hall of Fame members and nine past champions of the ANA Inspiration, including repeat winners Alcott and 34-time LPGA Tour champion Betsy King. The full field of Legends combined for over 350 wins on the LPGA Tour and 67 major championship titles.
For final round scores of the ANA Junior Inspiration Legends Day, please visit http://www.ajga.org. For more information on The Legends Tour, official senior tour of the LPGA, log onto http://www.thelegendstour.com.